a strong woman

by Leila

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I actually can’t remember when it was said to me, even though it’s been the last two weeks, that’s how blurred my life actually is as of late. It was either at The Living Desert while volunteering in The Butterflies, although that context doesn’t actually work out. Or it was as I was attempting to careen through SFO with a 7 yr old (that is interested in every single thing that his eyes spot) a 3 yr old (with a leash attached to her backpack) a 50 lb. bag and two carseats,  alone (well not alone because I had all of this). Yet I’m quite sure the conversation happened amongst those Winged Wonders, with a guest of The Living Desert.

For some reason he felt comfortable enough to go political with me. Truth be told he was actually right, as a post many years back states, “I am a hopeless moderate”. Yet admittedly I tend to swing to the left (I know you are all so shocked right (o:). But then I know I have people that I love, respect and adore way far to the right; who are super smart and amazing folks. Therefore hopeless. The gentleman said, “Well it is the year of the woman, is it not?” Continuing to share that he believed we (women) were the ones who were going to bring the change that it takes to get past and move positively forward from where we are now/today. It was a compliment from a man that I don’t know and I was thankful to see that men are acknowledging the impact and strength of what has been know as ‘the weaker sex’.

I know that I am a strong woman. I know that I have given birth to two strong women, I know that my sons each married strong women. Yet as I was doing the expected (for the dog) walk around the block with my beloved husband tonight, I had a thought of what I think a strong woman is and I decided I wanted to say it out loud here.

I’d like to start to say, what for me, it is not. Standing up for, demanding and fighting for rights and privileges that I personally think belong to me so that I can pound my chest and scream at you as to how I am equal and/or superior, is not what I personally believe is true strength. I’m not saying this is wrong. I’m saying for me, I tend to look at my strength from another perspective.

Two days ago I witnessed a young woman, with extreme emotional challenges that are real, in her face and attacking her mind full bore. She chose to walk into an uncomfortable situation, attempt to be as present as she possibly could be and do everything her battled brain and self could do to feebly attempt to fit it, which she did not, to show her friend of old, that she loved her. To me this broken, hurting and somewhat lost young lady is a strong woman.

I want to protect and respect my own girls, my daughters and daughters in law and their privacy. Yet each of them are confronted with immense amounts of challenge and true hardship as they are faced with what life really does bring. I want to say they are four of the strongest, most beautiful, kind yet mighty women that I know. I just don’t want to divulge all that they each deal with day in and day out. They deserve a shot out, just a somewhat unspoken one.

To me a strong woman is a woman who does not have the need to do as referenced above. She is a woman who walks through it, carries the weight, accepts the hard, the bad along with the good, listens, learns, grows, does not demand her way, is broken beyond belief, cries out and can wipe her tears and move on without retaliating, she loves, she gives, she understands more than just only what she thinks and believes, she works through her personal weaknesses, she sacrifices her time to help and care for those who she knows it will matter to, she has the ability to say no to those who she knows it will not, she does not compare herself with others, she is funny, she is real, she accepts her aging skin and body as the world around her tells her not to, she wipes yet another butt, she sings yet another song, she walks through a new marriage blindsided with sad truth hoping to make it a better reality one day, she answers the phone even though she doesn’t feel like it, she cooks another seemingly boring dinner, she endlessly encourages her depressed and saddened friend or partner, she cries at the bad, she jumps for joy at the good, she never stops working, trying, believing and hoping for it all to be better one day, she knows that one more day is a gift and if it’s a sucky one she needs to pull up her boot straps and remember how great it is that she got this one more day.

My own life has been filled with so many challenges the last several weeks that I at times am clueless as to how I keep my head afloat. I’ve cried a lot, broken down, called for help, questioned everything before me. But then somehow we keep our head afloat among extreme circumstances all the while having the ability to care for, bless, consider and acknowledge all that are and is around us. A strong woman, she sees past herself.

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We can, because we are and we do.

Please know that I am not ‘Woman Proud’ here. I have two sons that make me sob because of who they are, I am so proud and humbled that they are mine. I have two grandsons that are the apple of my eye. My closest buds here are male, then you all know I have my own Bill, he’s the bees knees in it all. I’m just saying a strong women is a very good thing and I am thankful and confident to say that I humbly consider myself one today.

To my mothers, sisters, sisters in law, daughters, daughters in law, nieces, cousins, friends of old and new. Here’s to us and our power. Although to me our power is not only in our might, it’s in the great strength of all that we are able to bear and move forward in, a day at a time.

Feeling thankful tonight and just a bit proud, which for me is a very rare thing to ever admit. But I am, so there.

This girl, she is for sure one and I’m so delighted about that!

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prv 11:16

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